Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

23 June 2018

Sunday in the Garden

Our house is bordered on three sides by a deep flower bed. Ten years ago, when we moved in, the bed was mostly weed-choked mulch, dotted by islands of evergreens, azalea, and the odd clump of daffodils and hosta. I immediately removed the hostas (hate hostas so very very much), launched a (largely unsuccessful) decade-long war on the weeds, and began filling in the sea of mulch with perennials and more spring-flowering bulbs.

Dalmatian Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana)

It's a lot of garden for one not-very-dedicated gardener to manage and, next to my neighbor's perfect lawn and flower beds, tends to look quite unkempt. But the critters like it! The flower beds are busy with bees and butterflies. Chirpy birds and hustling chipmunk make their homes among the trees and shrubs. Last year, we even had a fox denning under our shed! This year ... well, this year we had a visiting bear. I will take all that over cosmetic perfection.

Recently, I've been trying to follow the National Wildlife Federation's Garden for Wildlife "Garden Certification Walk-through Checklist." Food, water, cover, and places to raise young are pretty well in hand, but the sustainable practices requirements are giving me some trouble. I use mulch and don't water much, but while that meets the requirements for "Soil and Water Conservation," it hardly feels like trying.

Cranesbill spangled with rain.

I'd like to get a rain barrel, but have yet to do so despite talking about it with The Husband for years now. It's just ... would we use it properly or would it just be one of those well-intentioned bad ideas? Like the compost bins, which seemed like a great idea, but were (in hindsight) badly positioned and poorly managed.

Anyway, if anything is really stymieing me, it's the "Organic Practices." Up to a year ago, I had a compost bin, but now all that compost has been worked into the vegetable beds and our green waste goes straight out (I know, I know). So no compost bin and I'm still using chemical fertilizers. Not a lot, but a couple bags of Miracle-Gro garden soil get worked into my vegetable beds every spring and I do water new perennial plantings with Miracle-Gro to give them, I feel, a fighting chance. It's a crutch, I know, and I could switch to organics, but laziness and lack of surety hold me back.

Also ... well, there's that constant feeling of the world ending in my lifetime, so what does matter if I never certify my garden? I think gardening is supposed to inspire optimism in a person, but lately all I feel is a resigned sort of pragmatism.

Focus on the delphinium & not the weeds behind it.

10 June 2018

Sunday in the Garden



This spring has been a weird one -- frequently cold and wet with abrupt moments of summer heat and humidity. But, mostly cold and wet. Unsurprisingly, my vegetable beds are not liking this weather. Even what I think of as the cool weather crops -- the spinach and peas, for example -- are growing very slowly.

My peas, which I had already harvested a few times by now last year, are barely a foot tall. The poor spinach took a knocking during the hail storm we had a few weeks ago, but sprang back and has put on some growth. As for the chard and brussels sprouts ... meh.


Of course, what's going to happen is the weather will abruptly turn hot and sunny, everything in the garden will go into overdrive, and I'll have produce coming out of my ears.

Especially after 29 June when my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) partial share becomes available. Yes, I know I complained last summer about being feeling I was a slave to my CSA share and that I wasn't going to do it again. But, oh, we know I am weak.

The share is through a different farm this year -- Gresczyk Farms out of New Hartford. My friend, Kelly, had bought a full share from Gresczyk last year and, frankly, her shares always looked great. Only a partial share for us this summer (eggs and enough produce for a "household [that] likes to eat vegetables"), but I still pick it up at the Friday farmer's market down from the library so I can still pick up other items like bread and pickles at the same time.


All subscribers receive a weekly email listing our CSA share for the week as well as a weekly handout with recipes and preparation tips. And, really, the weekly email is what sold me. No more being surprised by produce. I mean, I want to try new vegetables -- that is very much the reason I belong to a CSA -- but there was always that moment of panic on Friday afternoons last summer, when I'd find myself staring down at a basket of fennel bulbs wondering if I had the time or wherewithal to deal with them. Now I can menu plan well ahead of time and be ready to cook.

This is all presuming that the commercial farms are doing better than my own backyard garden, of course!

16 May 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Dwarf Iris After Rain

Dwarf bearded irises speckled with rain. Variety might be "Scruples," but I can't be certain. Transplanted from my mom's garden yonks ago.

09 May 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Dicentra spectabilis

This pink bleeding heart is one of my garden favorites.

11 April 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Stray Iris

The chipmunks have been rearranging my spring bulbs, again. This stray dwarf iris, 'Katharine Hodgkin,' has popped up under a blueberry bush.

04 April 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Crocuses in Snow

Purple crocuses undaunted by a little April snow.

08 November 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Seed heads

Seed heads from a woody garden weed. Birds seem to like it so I've left it be ... which means the vegetable bed will be full of it next spring.

23 August 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Cranesbill & Babbitty Bumble

“Zizz, Wizz, Wizzz!” Babbitty Bumble is busy with the cranesbill today.

16 August 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Monstrous Beets

Needed a little help harvesting the beets! Left them too long and some are now the size of oranges!

09 August 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Hydrangea

Hydrangea macrophylla "Everlasting Revolution" blooming in the front garden. Love the combination of soft blue and pale green.

01 July 2017

A Pirate's Life for ... Peas?

When I planted the vegetable beds in May, I planted a row of "Little SnapPea Crunch" sugar snap peas -- a compact plant with self-supporting vines well-suited to containers -- with the expectation they would grow into a stout hedge of deliciousness. Alas, my peas were rambling peas. The plants grew up, yes, but then went wide, entangling the orderly rows of beets, lettuce, and bush beans I had planted alongside them.


I put up my pea fence -- the fence I expected to not need this year -- and tied them back. But. Wild and wily, they keep escaping the pea fence and are currently climbing down the side of their raised bed, dead set on conquering the neighboring tomato/pumpkin/pepper bed. I am both immensely amused by their feral liveliness and exhausted. Stay on your fence, peas. Stop trying to pirate the other beds.

You might think, with all that prolific growth, that the plants would have no energy or time to fruit. You would be wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. The snap pea harvest is in its heyday and I find I need to pick a cake pan's worth every day just to keep up. Harvesting the peas, of course, means the plants get busy making more and ... it's just a vicious, delicious cycle, isn't it?


Sugar snap peas, you are so fine. So delightfully crunchy and sweet straight from the vine. Plump little green crescents of joy. Just keep your tendrils out of the lawn, less the lawnmower get you.

21 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Hydrangea macrophylla

Spotted this hydrangea at a local garden center
& really wish there was a place for it in my garden!

14 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Iris & Peony

White iris in bloom against deep pink peonies.

10 June 2017

June Flowers

The world's best co-workers gave me a gift card to White Flower Farm when I left that library in late March and it has been burning a hole in my pocket ever since. I spent a little on two Nepeta “Little Titch” (I have a weakness for catmint) last month, but held back on any other purchases until I felt sure I knew what I wanted to do and wasn’t just going to go on a buying spree and then try to jam the plants into my beds, all higgledy-piggledy.


On my last Friday off, I ended back up at White Flower looking for more “Little Titch” to flank the lady’s mantle growing in the front bed -- the combination of pale lavender spikes against the fuzzy cupped leaves and chartreuse clusters seemed a good one -- but it was not to be. Undeterred, I settled for two “Limelight,” instead, which have a similar footprint to “Little Titch” but with brilliant lime-green foliage. I’ve planted the catmint in a checkerboard around the lady’s mantle and, in hindsight, it might be too much yellowy-green together ...


The pansy basket hanging off the side porch has been looking a bit sad of late so I moved it to the table on the back porch and replaced it with a fluffy strawberry shortcake of a hanging basket full of ruby and raspberry verbena, cherry blossom pink calibrachoa, and white lobelia. Smitten with that color combination, I added a planter of white bacopa, light pink calibrachoa, and burgundy verbena. They look lovely together and I may try a similar combination in the mailbox planter ...


07 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Poppy (Papaver)

Hairy sepals slowly splitting to reveal a maturing poppy flower.